Breaking the Habit

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
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Twenty Up
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Breaking the Habit

Unread postby Twenty Up » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:24 am

This is going to sound odd, but I get doe fever like no other. On the flip side when a big buck comes through I'm still shaken up but it's a more collected "it's go time" rush. I've been at full draw on both, with bucks I can hold the pin straight. With does on the other hand... I'm shaken up and all over the place.

In the past two seasons I've missed 6 does, past 3 seasons it's around 9-10 :?
Due to various reasons: operator error, equipment failure, clipped twigs, misjudged yardage the list goes on. Up until now this kept me going, I've always loved the challenge of bow hunting public land and it made me "want it" even more. BUT At this point my confidence is broken with does, no matter what I've done so far (let them feed around me, closed my eyes and tried controlling my breathing)... doesn't help much because it seems to be a much deeper loss of confidence that I cannot break.

Has anyone else experienced this? What have you found helped?


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Boogieman1
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby Boogieman1 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:38 am

Don't know if this will help ya or not, but the first year or 2 I hunted with a bow I had what u r describing. But when my mentality switched to I'm expecting a kill shot every time I climbed in a stand, cause that's why I'm in that stand on that day. All those jitters and nerves went away cause I was mentally prepared and ready for a kill. Does it always happen that way? Heck no but I expect it to and it leaves me calm, cool and collected. Gotta find your inner dragon lol
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby BackCoverBowHunter » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:31 am

Boogieman1 wrote:Don't know if this will help ya or not, but the first year or 2 I hunted with a bow I had what u r describing. But when my mentality switched to I'm expecting a kill shot every time I climbed in a stand, cause that's why I'm in that stand on that day. All those jitters and nerves went away cause I was mentally prepared and ready for a kill. Does it always happen that way? Heck no but I expect it to and it leaves me calm, cool and collected. Gotta find your inner dragon lol


X2. I also for the first two or three seasons missed 4 bucks. And 4 doe. It was buck fever, and buying into broadhead hype and so forth. Fact of the matter was I was putting myself on deer and opportunities. So that next year I shot everyday. For about an hour. Or just in the free moments I had. The past 3 seasons if it walks by and I like it. It is mine. I am automatic in my process. And I still get the gitters. But now it is just afterwards.

I just got into traditional now. And I have that same process. I shot everyday. 20 to 30 arrows. Any moment I find. Absolutely in love with both my recurve and my compound. And shooting trad has actually stepped my compound game up ten fold.

If you can find a league or go out to the archery range more often. Sign up for the different competitions. You will find yourself more calm when it comes to shooting an animal. I know it has helped me. Also it made me rethink some of the shots I did not take.

Good luck!
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby fireforeffect » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:39 pm

Develop a set of steps in your shot process, and recite them in your head at the moment of truth. Mine goes like this...
Smooth draw
Pull the bow apart
Bend at the waist
Aim small
Ease the trigger
Follow through
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby Whitetailaddict » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:45 pm

You'd be amazed at how powerful the mind is and how much it controls the body. Just the other day watched a person's heart rate climb 35 beats a minute which is alot in a matter of seconds when they became anxious and let the mind take over but was able to come right back down after setlling down. I'm assuming similar things happen to many of us when we see an animal we want to harvest. Nail down your shot routine and mentally shoot that deer in your head multiple times before the shot even presents itself.
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby Ognennyy » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:51 am

fireforeffect wrote:Develop a set of steps in your shot process, and recite them in your head at the moment of truth. Mine goes like this...
Smooth draw
Pull the bow apart
Bend at the waist
Aim small
Ease the trigger
Follow through


I think this is your best bet, Twenty. Just come up with a 3-6 step mantra that describes the shot process that you already use. Many people will insist you need to have practiced your shot enough to the point where you go on autopilot in the moment of truth. I suppose that works for some people. But in any and all cases where you find your mind doing unproductive things, a potential solution is to occupy it with something that is productive. Take a deep breath, close your eyes for a moment. Open them. Recite your mantra, and follow along with your body. Before you know it your arrow is on its way to your mark.

What you're experiencing happens to everyone, with some situation, eventually. I don't mean to downplay your circumstances but if you think about it, it's really kinda impossibly silly. What, female deer have this 30 yard bubble around them that messes with your head when they get close? Heh. You're fine. You just got unlucky, like everyone does, except your unlucky moments have coincidentally come in three back-to-back seasons, and happened to be when a deer without a nutsack was walking in front of you. If you flip a quarter seven billion times, at some point it will come up tails 300 times in a row even though odds say it should be heads one flip, then tails the next. You just got unlucky. Eventually you'll stop getting unlucky again.

Maybe that "eventually" will be your next shot at a deer. Good luck friend.
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby headgear » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:03 am

Had some of that when I first started out, I think everyone does. You might be rushing a little, try and slow everything down and be patient for the right shot. There are times you need to make a move and get that arrow off in a hurry but if you are having a lot of issues just wait it out for an easy slam dunk, even if it is a fawn, we need to build up that confidence again. You could also try wiping your memory of these events and starting with a fresh take on bowhunting, no reason to let the past dictate your future. Good luck!
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby magicman54494 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:41 am

Seeing the deer as a target instead of a deer helps. another thing is to PICK A SPOT. this always makes the deer into a target. Don't look em in the eyes. that always freaks me out. When all else fails get mad. Get really mad. hate that deer. that helped me when I was starting out.

Another thing you can do before you hunt is to visualize making that perfect shot calmly. Do this over and over. You will be surprised how good this works.

When I started hunting with a muzzle loader I had to get used to pulling back the hammer. I worried that I would forget to do this at the moment of truth. I said over and over to myself that I would pull the hammer back before I shoot. I did this 100's of times. When I took my first shot at a deer I don't even remember pulling the hammer back. I just did it automatically.
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby Prairie Sasquatch » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:23 pm

I shoot a lot of competitive sporting clays. One thing I did and still do over and over and over is practice good smooth gun mounts so it's muscle memory.

When I picked up a bow again this summer after not shooting for over 15 years I practiced and worked up my own routine similar to what others have mentioned. Then I slowly and methodically practiced every night all summer. I'm not a great bow shot yet but I feel very confident at 30 yards and under. I also imagined I was shooting a real deer when I practiced and sometimes I just imagined various scenarios where I was drawing on and shooting bucks. This was a habit I picked up shooting sporting clays.

Two weeks ago I finally got my chance at a nice 4x4 at 15 yards. When I decided it was a deer I wanted it was like I was on auto pilot. I drew when he put his head down, found my anchor, settled the pin and let the arrow fly. The arrow zipped right through him just like I had imaged 1000's of times. I was shaking just after the shot but I believe by visualizing the scenario so many times before allowed me to slow down in that small window of time and make a good shot. He ran 80 yards and fell over.

Imagine yourself making a perfect shot for mental prep. I also think it makes sense to practice on a deer target. The military and law enforcement are required to qualify on human silhouettes for a reason. It better simulates actual combat situations and better prepared them.

You can get your confidence back by simply imagining yourself being calm and making a perfect shot.
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby Lockdown » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:09 pm

magicman54494 wrote:Seeing the deer as a targetinstead of a deer helps. another thing is to PICK A SPOT. this always makes the deer into a target. Don't look em in the eyes. that always freaks me out. When all else fails get mad. Get really mad. hate that deer. that helped me when I was starting out.

Another thing you can do before you hunt is to visualize making that perfect shot calmly. Do this over and over. You will be surprised how good this works.

When I started hunting with a muzzle loader I had to get used to pulling back the hammer. I worried that I would forget to do this at the moment of truth. I said over and over to myself that I would pull the hammer back before I shoot. I did this 100's of times. When I took my first shot at a deer I don't even remember pulling the hammer back. I just did it automatically.


This. If you don’t shoot a 3D target buy one. It helped me tremendously.

Also, I used to get nervous and not breathe deep enough. (I know you mentioned controlling your breathing) Once i figured that out i could feel myself relax more. I was basically starving myself of oxygen :lol: Take long DEEP frequent breaths, while you wait for a GOOD shot opportunity.
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Re: Breaking the Habit

Unread postby nor' easter » Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:59 pm

Lockdown wrote:
magicman54494 wrote:Seeing the deer as a targetinstead of a deer helps. another thing is to PICK A SPOT. this always makes the deer into a target. Don't look em in the eyes. that always freaks me out. When all else fails get mad. Get really mad. hate that deer. that helped me when I was starting out.

Another thing you can do before you hunt is to visualize making that perfect shot calmly. Do this over and over. You will be surprised how good this works.

When I started hunting with a muzzle loader I had to get used to pulling back the hammer. I worried that I would forget to do this at the moment of truth. I said over and over to myself that I would pull the hammer back before I shoot. I did this 100's of times. When I took my first shot at a deer I don't even remember pulling the hammer back. I just did it automatically.


This. If you don’t shoot a 3D target buy one. It helped me tremendously.

Also, I used to get nervous and not breathe deep enough. (I know you mentioned controlling your breathing) Once i figured that out i could feel myself relax more. I was basically starving myself of oxygen :lol: Take long DEEP frequent breaths, while you wait for a GOOD shot opportunity.


I used to do the exact same thing. I would fall apart when I had deer in bow range. Shaking, shallow breathing, rushing shots, not hitting anchor points, etc. We have low densities and I hadn't seen many deer that close. What seems to help me now is taking a few deliberate, slow, deep breathes when I hear a deer coming. Then I clear my mindy of all thoughts, and as mentioned I also like to focus on the kill zone and not look the animal in the eye. Another thing I am working on is making a mental note of where the deer is standing and where it heads after the shot. Im typically so focused on the shot that I get tunnel vision. Also i try drawing and aiming on every deer that walks by as long as I can without getting busted.


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